Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

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mac_guy
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Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by mac_guy » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:03 am

I own a one Bedroom/ one Bathroom condo unit that I rent out. I have a tenant moving out next month and I've decided to redo the kitchen before renting again. The unit currently does not have a garbage disposal. I'm trying to decide whether or not to have one put in. I checked with the condo association and they are allowed in the building. The town also allows them.

I am thinking of positives and negatives.

Positives:

It would make living in the unit more convenient. My unit is on the second floor of a building. There is no garbage chute or garbage room on the second floor. Tenants must take their trash downstairs themselves and throw it into a dumpster outside. I would imagine it would be convenient for a tenant if they could dispose of food scraps with a disposal unit. A garbage disposal would probably lessen the number of times they would have to bring their trash outside in a given week.

Negatives:

Garbage disposals are very easy to damage. If a tenant lets a spoon or something else hard fall in and runs it, they will probably damage it and call me to repair it. It will probably be difficult to prove they are responsible for breaking it. Garbage disposals can also be dangerous. Maybe I could be liable if they get hurt using it?

Anyway, I'm trying to decide what to do here. If anyone has experience with rental property and garbage disposals, please let me know what you think.

EDIT: I wanted to give some context as to the price of the unit and the rent. My unit is prob worth about $160K if sold. I would expect rent to be about $1200/month. This is in NE suburban area. Probably medium cost of living area.
Last edited by mac_guy on Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:27 am, edited 2 times in total.

jpelder
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by jpelder » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:19 am

My perspective is that of a tenant, not a landlord, so take that into consideration.

If the property is a "nice" one (marketed to middle-class and above renters), then a garbage disposal unit is a relatively common thing to include. It's probably worth an extra $10 per month in a market like mine. As a tenant, I like having a disposal. Other landlord can chime in on the maintenance and issues. I never had a disposal break as a tenant (but I knew how to use them)

fareastwarriors
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by fareastwarriors » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:21 am

It's a higher end unit or lower?

I wouldn't do it for a lower end property...People always use it incorrectly and jam everything into it. I fixed and replaced many. I learned my lesson.

mac_guy
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by mac_guy » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:27 am

fareastwarriors wrote:It's a higher end unit or lower?

I wouldn't do it for a lower end property...People always use it incorrectly and jam everything into it. I fixed and replaced many. I learned my lesson.
My unit is prob worth about $160K if sold. I would expect rent to be about $1200/month. This is in NE suburban area. Probably medium cost of living area.

fareastwarriors
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by fareastwarriors » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:29 am

mac_guy wrote:
fareastwarriors wrote:It's a higher end unit or lower?

I wouldn't do it for a lower end property...People always use it incorrectly and jam everything into it. I fixed and replaced many. I learned my lesson.
My unit is prob worth about $160K if sold. I would expect rent to be about $1200/month. This is in NE suburban area. Probably medium cost of living area.
Another suggestion is to check out rental listings near your unit. Is garbage disposal standard in your area?

arsenalfan
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by arsenalfan » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:32 am

Who are your renters/will they appreciate and maybe pay more for unit?

e.g. if 18-20something students, don't do it - they probably don't care, haven't paid much attention to life with/out a disposal.

If it's professionals/families/anyone who cooks a lot at home, that would appreciate a disposal and not having to unclog their sink trap every meal, and would pay extra, then yes.

If you do do it, tape hex key onto disposal - this way you can talk tenant through how to un-stick the disposal if spoons/coins go down.

mac_guy
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by mac_guy » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:37 am

arsenalfan wrote:Who are your renters/will they appreciate and maybe pay more for unit?

e.g. if 18-20something students, don't do it - they probably don't care, haven't paid much attention to life with/out a disposal.

If it's professionals/families/anyone who cooks a lot at home, that would appreciate a disposal and not having to unclog their sink trap every meal, and would pay extra, then yes.

If you do do it, tape hex key onto disposal - this way you can talk tenant through how to un-stick the disposal if spoons/coins go down.
Well, that is sort of the problem. For the last 10 years, we've been renting to people under 30. Some were grad students, some with their first jobs out of college. I actually wanted to get away from that class of renter, however. We've had issues with noise and renters not taking good care of the unit.

One of the reasons I am redoing the kitchen is so I can hopefully raise the rent and get away from the younger renters.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by Dottie57 » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:44 am

mac_guy wrote:
arsenalfan wrote:Who are your renters/will they appreciate and maybe pay more for unit?

e.g. if 18-20something students, don't do it - they probably don't care, haven't paid much attention to life with/out a disposal.

If it's professionals/families/anyone who cooks a lot at home, that would appreciate a disposal and not having to unclog their sink trap every meal, and would pay extra, then yes.

If you do do it, tape hex key onto disposal - this way you can talk tenant through how to un-stick the disposal if spoons/coins go down.
Well, that is sort of the problem. For the last 10 years, we've been renting to people under 30. Some were grad students, some with their first jobs out of college. I actually wanted to get away from that class of renter, however. We've had issues with noise and renters not taking good care of the unit.

One of the reasons I am redoing the kitchen is so I can hopefully raise the rent and get away from the younger renters.
Require more than a month rent charge upfront. Limit number of occupants. Lease should limit noise residents can make.
Higher rent for nicer place , including kitchen and bathroom.

arsenalfan
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by arsenalfan » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:51 am

The rest of your kitchen matters too.

If it's a stock galley kitchen with shallow sink, cheap/minimal counterspace, and old range/fridge/dishwasher, then I'd just forgo it.

OTOH, if you have a decent kitchen, then the disposal would fit right in.

Coin toss - I will say that of the 4 maintenance visits in the past 3 years to my 4 units, one was for disposal repair (had to bring disposal key to get penny out). Now all the units have their own key.

miles monroe
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by miles monroe » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:57 am

just something else to break...

just me, but the absence or presence of a garbage disposal would have zero impact on my decision to purchase or rent.

batpot
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by batpot » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:35 pm

I wouldn't install one, but would add a good strainer.

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Kosmo
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by Kosmo » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:49 pm

If it doesn't already exist, I wouldn't add one. That's not a feature that will make or break the deal for a potential tenant.

Full disclosure: I have a disposal in my rental property. It was there when I bought the place.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by jalbert » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:51 pm

Yes. Disposalls are cheap. Plumbing repairs required because of things improperly allowed to go through the drain are expensive. Be sure to keep the hex key that comes with a disposall. When they get jammed, you use it to manually turn from the bottom of the unit to unjam, saving the cost of a service call.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by Abe » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:56 pm

I have a lot of problems with garbage disposals in my rentals. Instead of repairing, I have been taking them out. If it's not one there, I don't have to repair or replace. I even took the one out in my personal residence.
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Millennial
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by Millennial » Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:16 pm

I have had one in a rental unit for about 6 years. I have been called to "fix" it four times in that span - mostly because something small and metal (or in one case, a spoon) was in there. It takes <5 minutes to fix usually - shop vac the food out, spin backward to free whatever they stuck in there, and then click the reset button. Since the repairs have been easy, I've left it in.

As far as liability - I installed a "batch" style disposal - there's no switch, you need to insert the drain plug in order to turn it on. I thought this seemed a lot safer, since there is no way to accidentally start it with a hand in there.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by dave_k » Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:29 pm

I installed one in a vacation rental (lots of short-term tenants) over 2 years ago with no issues, and if it has problems it shouldn't be expensive to fix/replace. I think it's good to have, especially in an updated kitchen. I also installed one in our house several years ago when we moved in, and haven't had any issues with it, even though we have dropped metal objects in occasionally (spoons and pressure cooker weight). I just pulled them out, all dinged up, and the disposal still works fine. If I rented a place (as the tenant) with an updated kitchen that didn't have one, I'd wonder why it was left out.

Tal-
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by Tal- » Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:41 pm

Generally speaking, no. I would NOT include a garbage disposal.

We have several single-family rentals, and garbage disposals are probably the thing most likely to break. So, I've been taking them out of some properties, and even pushing back a bit on tenants who ask for them.

To date, I have had 1-2 tenants ask about them, but it was not overly important to them. I do not believe that I have ever had a garbage disposal impact a tenant's decision to rent or stay, or impact a rent amount (in either a positive or negative way).

If I had an upper-end rental (think median home price + 20% or so) with stainless appliances and slab counters, I would probably add a garbage disposal. But, these tenants are paying a premium for a premium property. I target middle class areas, so I tend to shy away from garbage disposals.
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by JoinToday » Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:52 pm

Millennial wrote: As far as liability - I installed a "batch" style disposal - there's no switch, you need to insert the drain plug in order to turn it on. I thought this seemed a lot safer, since there is no way to accidentally start it with a hand in there.
So how does that work? you shove food in the disposal, insert drain plug, and the garbage disposal turns on? Is the drain plug really a strainer so water goes by it and washes ground up food out of the disposal?

I wouldn't trust some automatic switch like that. I would picture my hand trying to retrieve something from the disposal, the automatic switch is somehow triggered... you get the picture. Makes me shudder. Doesn't seem as safe as a switch to me.

Its funny, I have not thought about garbage disposer problems. No issue with a jammed disposer in my house for 30 years, I think I replaced it only once 20 years ago. I remember my college apt having an issue or two, property mgr stuck the hex wrench in the bottom & reset the motor.
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by DaftInvestor » Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:53 pm

For a medium-cost-of-living suburb I would think this would help get you better qualified renters. I, personally, would never rent a place without one.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by imyeti2 » Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:18 pm

We had one in our rental unit.

I'd specifically call out in the lease agreement that if it breaks, landlord will not repair.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by Luke Duke » Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:21 pm

JoinToday wrote:
Millennial wrote: As far as liability - I installed a "batch" style disposal - there's no switch, you need to insert the drain plug in order to turn it on. I thought this seemed a lot safer, since there is no way to accidentally start it with a hand in there.
So how does that work? you shove food in the disposal, insert drain plug, and the garbage disposal turns on? Is the drain plug really a strainer so water goes by it and washes ground up food out of the disposal?
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by deanbrew » Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:28 pm

imyeti2 wrote:We had one in our rental unit.

I'd specifically call out in the lease agreement that if it breaks, landlord will not repair.
Yeah, you can probably structure the lease with a work-around to avoid having to pay a plumber for a 5-minute fix.

I know apartment owners that are taking garbage disposals and ice makers out of their units, due to the frequent need for repair. But, thees are fairly low-end units. Again, it depends on what type of tenant you have/want. I have owned rental units, and never really had a problem with disposals. On the other hand, I had to replace my own not too long ago, but it had been there quite a few years.
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by Millennial » Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:30 pm

JoinToday wrote:
Millennial wrote: As far as liability - I installed a "batch" style disposal - there's no switch, you need to insert the drain plug in order to turn it on. I thought this seemed a lot safer, since there is no way to accidentally start it with a hand in there.
So how does that work? you shove food in the disposal, insert drain plug, and the garbage disposal turns on? Is the drain plug really a strainer so water goes by it and washes ground up food out of the disposal?

I wouldn't trust some automatic switch like that. I would picture my hand trying to retrieve something from the disposal, the automatic switch is somehow triggered... you get the picture. Makes me shudder. Doesn't seem as safe as a switch to me.
There are two magnets in the plug. You stuff the food in, and the disposal turns on when you insert the plug and turn the magnets to 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. Since it appears to need both magnets in the right place at the same time to trigger, I don't think there is much chance of accidentally triggering it. These things are widely sold... if they had faulty switches I've got to think the manufacturers would have stopped selling them.

The plug works like a strainer (and triggers the disposal) if inserted one way. It works as a plug if inserted upside down, so you can still fill the sink with water.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by Meg77 » Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:51 pm

I have 10 rental units, 6 of which are in fairly low income areas. All have a garbage disposal. I've never had any issues with any of them in the 8 years I've been landlording - at least none that I'm aware of. I've had a property manager managing 8 of the units for 4 years now so it's possible some small repairs were made that fell under the limit of things I would have been informed about.

I did have to replace one when I upgraded the other appliances and fixtures in the kitchen and was informed that the valves and lines with the new dishwasher weren't compatible with my old disposal. So I paid $75 for a new one. I was annoyed, but oh well.
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by WJW » Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:58 pm

I would not install one. One less thing to worry about repairing or replacing. I have rentals - none have disposals and it does not negatively affect the rent or quality of my tenants.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by badbreath » Wed Sep 28, 2016 4:58 pm

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by tim1999 » Wed Sep 28, 2016 5:48 pm

I'm in my 30s and have never used one of these in my life, no need or desire to. If anything it would be a negative since it would take away cabinet space.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by badger42 » Wed Sep 28, 2016 6:43 pm

deanbrew wrote: I know apartment owners that are taking garbage disposals and ice makers out of their units, due to the frequent need for repair. But, thees are fairly low-end units. Again, it depends on what type of tenant you have/want. I have owned rental units, and never really had a problem with disposals. On the other hand, I had to replace my own not too long ago, but it had been there quite a few years.
As a renter (in a VHCOL area) - I don't care about an ice maker (trays are easy, and I'd rather have the freezer space) but the garbage disposal is mandatory. So is the dishwasher, for that matter - I'm not willing to take the time to hand wash plates and glasses and stuff.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by cheesepep » Wed Sep 28, 2016 7:01 pm

I really don't understand the importance or use of a garbage disposal unit. Just throw the food scraps into the trash. Use a good sink colander thing also, and you would have no issues.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by ralph124cf » Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:00 pm

As a landlord, I have had so many problems with garbage disposals that I have taken the out of all of my units.

People actually put corn husks, avocado skins, and watermelon rinds down disposals. These items do make it thru the disposals, but not down the pipes.

Too much trouble.

Ralph

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by denovo » Thu Sep 29, 2016 2:00 am

mac_guy wrote:
Well, that is sort of the problem. For the last 10 years, we've been renting to people under 30. Some were grad students, some with their first jobs out of college. I actually wanted to get away from that class of renter, however. We've had issues with noise and renters not taking good care of the unit.

One of the reasons I am redoing the kitchen is so I can hopefully raise the rent and get away from the younger renters.
Mac_guy,

I think most good tenants would expect a garbage disposal as a basic amenity, but I think you should take one step back before you get too thick into redoing the kitchen or the unit.

The Iron Law of Real Estate is Location,Location, Location. In every city, there are certain neighborhoods and areas that are popular with the high-end set, middle-set, and low-end set. You need to ask yourself if the area that you're leasing is even an area where you can reasonably attract more stable tenants. Such tenants will demand nicer units, but first threshold is the location. For example, its right across from a college campus, most your prospective tenants will be students and students first coming out of school.

Likewise, even in a good location, as you note this is a condo building, the second thing is amenities like pool, gym, indoor parking, laundry hookups. Maybe your building isn't more popular because newer ones have amenities that yours lack.

Long story short, you should look around in your building to see if other landlords are attracting a different class of tenants. If that is the case, then yes, reworking the unit could pay dividends. At least in my neck of the woods, hardwood floors and granite countertops seem to be what's hot now with recess lighting.

In one of my units , most of the tenants have been younger people in their 20's, but my tenants have been excellent. You should maybe invest in better screening. Farming it off to a property manager is not the way to do it.
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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by 2cents2 » Thu Sep 29, 2016 3:53 am

I dont like cooking in a kitchen that doesn't have a garbage disposal. It would be a deal breaker for me. We have been using the same garbage disposal that was there when we bought our house over 30 years ago (I am amazed at how long it's lasted).

Wouldn't not having a garbage disposal in the unit result in more slow drain problems from
Coffee grounds and errAnt food particles going down the drain?

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by travellight » Thu Sep 29, 2016 4:55 am

I have disposals in all 6 of my units and have had to replace 3 of them in the past 6 years. The only one that didnt already have one finally got one due to tenants' requests.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by jackietreehorn » Thu Sep 29, 2016 6:15 pm

I think it's 50/50. If you want to keep it, keep it. If not, don't. Clogged drains can happen just as easily as jammed disposals. Tenants will be tenants.

Over the years, half of my rentals had them, half didn't.

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Re: Is a garbage disposal unit a good idea for a rental property?

Post by Mudpuppy » Fri Sep 30, 2016 2:20 am

JoinToday wrote:I wouldn't trust some automatic switch like that. I would picture my hand trying to retrieve something from the disposal, the automatic switch is somehow triggered... you get the picture. Makes me shudder. Doesn't seem as safe as a switch to me.
If you're that concerned about the disposal turning on accidentally, you could always reach into the cabinet under the sink and unplug the disposal before retrieving the item. The disposal can't turn off if it is not plugged in.

Back to the OP, I don't have landlord experience, but I've always had disposals in the units I used to rent. I don't particularly need a disposal, and I'm considering removing the one from my home, but it always seemed to be provided in the mid-range rentals I gravitated towards.

As for your class of renter, I'm not sure you're going to attract much more than students or very young professionals with a 1 bedroom, 1 bath unit, particularly if there are 2 bedroom units for rent in the same area. For a single, mid-career professional, a 2 bedroom unit might be preferred so the second bedroom can be used as a home office. So you'd be marketing to the mid-career minimalists, and those might not be found easily in your area.

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